Even though most people have an innate sense of what's right, all sorts of barriers can keep them from acting on it. Faculty from top business schools and other participants at the recent Stanford Graduate School of Business' Center for Social Innovation conference called "Small Steps, Big Leaps: The Science of Getting People to do the Right Thing" discussed ways to encourage people to take positive actions.
Here are a few of the panelists' suggestions:
- 1. Stress the personal benefits of helping others: According to speaker Mike Norton of Harvard Business School, altruism is a powerful mood elevator. Whether it's thank-you gifts or simply feeling good, let people know what's in it for them when they pitch in.
- 2. Make doing good the default option: Columbia Business School's Eric Johnson pointed to research showing that there is a much higher rate of organ donation in countries where people have to opt out of organ donation, rather than opt in. Similarly, people save more money when their companies automatically enroll them in a retirement savings plan.
- 3. Show the popularity of doing the right thing: According to UCLA's Anderson School of Management's Noah Goldstein, humans are herd animals, so messages that people are doing the right thing will encourage positive behavior. For example, Goldstein said that signs reporting how many hotel guests reuse their towels are more effective than signs saying how many people waste water.
Image courtesy of Flickr user Brooke Anderson, CC 2.0.